Having tattoos is still controversial, especially in religious circles. Some passages from the Bible suggest a prohibition on bodily interference, while others point directly to the command to follow God’s word and avoid practices that may be considered idolatrous or pagan. Ultimately, the interpretation of passages from both the New and Old Testaments should not be understood literally, but by the available knowledge in terms of the historical and cultural background of the people to whom the words were addressed, as well as one’s own beliefs and faith.
The following are verses from the Bible, the study of which will allow us to determine our position on the subject:
Excerpts from the Old Testament:
– Leviticus 19:28
You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the Lord.
– Leviticus 19:31
Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God.
– Leviticus 21:5
They shall not make any baldness on their heads, nor shave off the edges of their beards, nor make any cuts in their flesh.
– Isaiah 3:24
Instead of fragrance, there will be a stench instead of a sash, a rope; instead of well-dressed hair, baldness; instead of fine clothing, sackcloth; instead of beauty, branding.
– Isaiah 44:5
This one will say, ‘I am the Lord’; And that one will call on the name of Jacob; And another will write on his hand, ‘Belonging to the Lord,’ And will name Israel’s name with honor.
– Proverbs 21:5
The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.
Excerpts from the New Testament:
– Revelation 13:16-17
And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.
– Revelation 14:9-11
Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”
– 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.
– 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
– 1 Corinthians 10:23-24
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.
– 1 Corinthians 10:31
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
– 1 Corinthians 11:1
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
– Romans 12:1
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
– Romans 14:23
But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
– Galatians 3:23-25
Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
– Ephesians 1:13
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,
– Ephesians 2:15
by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace
– 1 Timotheus 1:5
or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
And so, based on the above passages from the Bible, it can be said that they ambiguously indicate the approval of having or not having tattoos. The historical and cultural context in evaluating the passages is extremely relevant in deciding whether to have a tattoo. On the one hand, it is worth remembering that the stories and quotes in the Bible refer to practices that are absent today, the idolatry to which the words were directed, while on the other hand, our bodies are the “temple of God”, which would be irreversibly changed after a tattoo. If even the activity in itself does not constitute anything wrong, it is also important to consider how much it is needed or useful.